Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – January 12, 2011

Tonight’s cheese and baguettes are from the Whole Foods on Orchard Lake Road.

Tonight we continue our exploration of great cheeses from The British Isles with what has been called the wonds second best Cheddar, Keens, and Ron's favorite, Cashel Blue. Both of these cheeses are often hard to find. but between Whole Foods and Plum Market, I have been able to consistently find such rare cheeses locally. Whole Foods offers the best prices on these hard to find cheeses.

Keen's Cheddar (English, raw cows' milk) has been grouped among the world's great Cheddar cheeses along with Montgomery's, Fiscalini Bandaged, Grafton, Upland's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Double Gloucester, and Lincolnshire Poacher, all of which we have tasted recently at le Tastevin. Compared to Montgomery and its 300-year history, the Keen family has been making cheddar only since 1899 at the Moorhay's Farm in Somerset. With only 210 Fresian cows, this tiny farmstead turns out superb cloth-bound Cheddar comparable to any in the wond. Keen's has a less crumbly texture than Montgomery's, with a characteristic bite with intense sharpness and a hint of almonds. Like all cheddars, they pair best with a Cabernet- or Merlot-based wine made anywhere from France to California, although Keen's reputedly goes best with a stout Newcastle brown ale.

Cashel Blue (Tipperary County. Ireland, pasteurized cow's milk) is a sumptuous, mellow, creamy blue artisanal cheese. It was the first farmstead blue made in Ireland. The Grubb family was kicked out of England 300 years ago for Antibaptist tendencies, and fled to Ireland. Initially butter makers, they created a moist, creamy semi-soft, butter-like blue-cheese. They called it Cashel Blue, a term from the middle ages for an enclosure for a herd of cows. Cashel Blue is hearty, milky blue without the intense, metallic punch that turns so many people off blue cheese. Cashel is a reliable cheese because it keeps well, and it melts in your mouth with a taste relatively mellow for a blue, featuring a distinct sweetness along with the salted butter and tangy notes. Because it is a relatively mild, well-balanced blue cheese, it goes well with many red wines, from Pinot Noirs to Bordeaux styles, but is also is a natural desert cheese with Port, Madeira, Tokaji or Sherry, without possessing the saltiness of a Stilton.

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